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Beyoncé in Formation

Beyoncé in Formation
Remixing Black Feminism

In this enthralling, empowering “mixtape” memoir, a visionary feminist scholar retraces her personal journey while reflecting on the painful legacies and exhilarating liberations that permeate Beyoncé’s game-changing Lemonade album.

November 2018
Active (available)
216 pages | 5.5 x 8.5 | 3 color and 2 b&w photos |

Making headlines when it was launched in 2015, Omise’eke Tinsley’s undergraduate course “Beyoncé Feminism, Rihanna Womanism” has inspired students from all walks of life. In Beyoncé in Formation, Tinsley now takes her rich observations beyond the classroom, using the blockbuster album and video Lemonade as a soundtrack for vital new-millennium narratives.

Woven with candid observations about her life as a feminist scholar of African studies and a cisgender femme married to a trans spouse, Tinsley’s “Femme-onade” mixtape explores myriad facets of black women’s sexuality and gender. Turning to Beyoncé’s “Don’t Hurt Yourself,” Tinsley assesses black feminist critiques of marriage and then considers the models of motherhood offered in “Daddy Lessons,” interspersing these passages with memories from Tinsley’s multiracial family history. Her chapters on nontraditional bonds culminate in a discussion of contemporary LGBT politics through the lens of the internet-breaking video “Formation,” underscoring why Beyoncé’s black femme-inism isn’t only for ciswomen. From pleasure politics and the struggle for black women’s reproductive justice to the subtext of blues and country music traditions, the landscape in this tour is populated by activists and artists (including Loretta Lynn) and infused with vibrant interpretations of Queen Bey’s provocative, peerless imagery and lyrics.

In the tradition of Roxanne Gay’s Bad Feminist and Jill Lepore’s best-selling cultural histories, Beyoncé in Formation is the work of a daring intellectual who is poised to spark a new conversation about freedom and identity in America.

  • Introduction: For the Texas Bama Femme
  • Family Album: Making Lemonade Out of Marriage, Motherhood, and Southern Tradition
    • Queen Bee Blues
    • Mama Said Shoot
  • “Most Bomb Pussy”: Toward a Black Feminist Pleasure Politics
    • Love the Grind
    • Unapologetically Femme
  • Calling for Freedom: Black Women’s Activism in the US South
    • Freedom, Too
    • I Came to Slay
  • Outro: I Know Beyoncé Loves Black Femmes
  • Acknowledgments
  • Notes
  • Index


Austin, Texas

Tinsley is an associate professor of African and African Diaspora studies and associate director of the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, where she teaches the popular course Beyoncé Feminism, Rihanna Womanism. Tinsley is the author of Thiefing Sugar: Eroticism between Women in Caribbean Literature and Ezili’s Mirrors: Imagining Black Queer Genders.


"Tinsley...brings tremendous gusto to her critique of Beyonce's 2016 album Lemonade."
Publisher's Weekly Holiday Gift Guide 2018

"Part memoir, part pop-culture scholarship, this slim, engaging book uses Beyoncé as a springboard for wide-ranging ruminations on sexuality, motherhood, and activism, among other big ideas."
Texas Observer

"[Tinsley's] approach…keeps the text accessible to music fans while underlining the book's central thesis: that Lemonade is one of the great black feminist works of this century and it deserves an exalted place in the canon of women's studies."

"Tinsley's…critical analysis of black women's sexuality, gender, and identity through the gaze of Beyoncé and the Lemonade album is especially important as her queer black perspective dissects Queen Bey in a way that only a black women-loving black woman could."
The Feminist Press

"[Translates] the visual and audio to another plane entirely, and will undoubtedly inspire much rewatching and relistening."

“An incisive, spiraling celebration of Southern black women.”
Publishers Weekly

“You'll come away from each chapter with a new appreciation of what Beyoncé has meant to women, particularly black women, across the country.”
The Current

“Sure to appeal to scholars and pop-culture enthusiasts alike, this provocative book works to blur the lines between straight and gay black feminism. . . Lively and intelligent reading.”
Kirkus Reviews

“A compelling and timely read about the many ways Beyoncé impacts not only American popular culture but the author's own particular life. Omise’eke Natasha Tinsley delivers a book that will appeal to lay listeners and members of the Beyhive alike.”
Regina N. Bradley, author of Boondock Kollage: Stories from the Hip Hop South